For the current study, researchers examined data from 21 studies that included a total of nearly 348,000 adults.
Participants, who were generally healthy to start, were surveyed about their diet habits and then followed for anywhere from 5 to 23 years. Over that time, 11,000 developed heart disease or suffered a stroke.
The studies that have linked the "Western diet" to an increased heart disease risk most likely simply confirm that sugar and refined carbohydrates are harmful to heart health. Because although the Western diet is high in red and processed meats and saturated fats, it's also alarmingly high in sugar and refined carbohydrates like bread and pasta.
The authors stated that dietary efforts to improve cardivascular disease risk should primarily emphasize:
Research Paper Details
Objective: The objective of this meta-analysis was to summarize the evidence related to the association of dietary saturated fat with risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and cardiovascular disease (CVD; CHD inclusive of stroke) in prospective epidemiologic studies.
Design: Twenty-one studies identified by searching MEDLINE and EMBASE databases and secondary referencing qualified for inclusion in this study. A random-effects model was used to derive composite relative risk estimates for CHD, stroke, and CVD.
Results: During 5-23 y of follow-up of 347,747 subjects, 11,006 developed CHD or stroke. Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD. The pooled relative risk estimates that compared extreme quantiles of saturated fat intake were 1.07 (95% CI: 0.96, 1.19; P = 0.22) for CHD, 0.81 (95% CI: 0.62, 1.05; P = 0.11) for stroke, and 1.00 (95% CI: 0.89, 1.11; P = 0.95) for CVD. Consideration of age, sex, and study quality did not change the results.
Conclusions: A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat.
Why you need saturated fats
Saturated fats are vital for a healthy diet. They provide a concentrated source of energy and provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. They also act as carriers for the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Therefore, some saturated fat is needed in the diet for a healthy body. However, as explained previously, it's the unhealthy trans fats that are found in margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oils and processed foods that cause significant health problems.
Here are some tips to help ensure you're eating the right fats:
You may also find the other articles on this site regarding cholesterol to be of interest. See the related articles section further below.
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